Brussels asks to reduce gas consumption by 15% to avoid a crisis

Europe, and not Vladimir Putin, must decide its energy policy, the European Commission defended yesterday in a serious tone in the presentation of its proposal to save gas in the face of the possibility that Russia cuts off the tap.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
21 July 2022 Thursday 03:04
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Brussels asks to reduce gas consumption by 15% to avoid a crisis

Europe, and not Vladimir Putin, must decide its energy policy, the European Commission defended yesterday in a serious tone in the presentation of its proposal to save gas in the face of the possibility that Russia cuts off the tap. His recipe, act as if he had already closed it completely and prepare to dispense with this fuel by reducing consumption by 15% between next August 1 and March 31.

In this way, drawing on its reserves, Europe will be able to spend at least this winter with ease. But if the voluntary saving measures are not enough, the restrictions should become mandatory, defends the European Commission. In the event that the situation worsens, and after consulting the member states, Brussels claims to be able to declare a "European alert" and impose mandatory reductions in gas consumption "in all countries" of the Union. “Russia is blackmailing us, Russia is using energy as a weapon. Therefore, whether there is a total or partial cut, Europe must be prepared”, declared the president of the EC, Ursula von der Leyen.

"We must convince everyone of the need for this 15% saving," said the vice president responsible for the Green deal, Frans Timmermans, anticipating criticism from countries that do not depend on Russian gas or have already reduced their dependence in recent months. . “Those who are not as dependent on Russian gas will be affected indirectly when companies are closed and jobs are lost. Every citizen has to contribute to spending less gas,” said Timmermans.

The communication presented yesterday, which will be discussed by the European energy ministers in the extraordinary council on July 26, does not prejudge which industries will have to make the greatest efforts in each country to reduce consumption by 15% compared to the average of the last five years. The decision is left in the hands of national governments, which must present their updated emergency plans in September. The initiative that Brussels can declare a "European alert" is based on article 122 of the treaty, which allows exceptional measures in emergency situations, a legal basis that gives great executive powers to the European Commission.

The Vice President for the Ecological Transition of Spain, Teresa Ribera, advanced yesterday the Government's rejection of the proposal: "We have not lived above our possibilities in energy matters," she replied, highlighting the efforts made by the industry and consumers to invest in other types of supplies. The EC proposal includes, however, a provision that would allow countries like Spain and Portugal, which are barely connected to the European electricity grid, to limit the mandatory reduction percentage to 5%, since their efforts are barely they would contribute to the joint distribution of energy in the EU.

"All the energy that we save in summer is energy that we will have this winter," insists the European Commission, which has urged member states to replenish their gas reserves to 80% before November 1, a percentage that most countries has not yet reached due to shortage of supplies. If action is taken now, he affirms, “the negative impact on GDP will be reduced, it will help achieve the storage target of 80% of gas, the burden on the economy and consumption will be alleviated, allowing coordinated decisions to be made, and the pressure on on the markets by sending the right signals about how prepared Europe is," he says.

"Russia sees gas as a political weapon, so a European political response is needed," Timmermans argued. “It is not easy to predict what Putin's next step will be but it is clear that he will try to divide us. What we need to do is prepare for the possibility of a total shutdown.” Timmermans urged companies to accelerate their transition to renewable energy, even though it is assumed that they will temporarily have to switch from gas to coal or nuclear power, and called on consumers to give up some comforts to avoid a major crisis this winter. Among the voluntary measures recommended by Brussels is, for example, that public buildings are at 25ºC in summer when air conditioning is used and lower the heating to 19ºC in winter. "It will not be easy, but if we act now we have an opportunity to be masters of our destiny," concluded Timmermans, recalling that the supply to homes is guaranteed.

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